Witchcraft is a huge issue in Tanzania at the moment. Levels of belief are extremely high, with horrific consequences for two groups in particular: older women (and others) who are accused of being witches and in many cases murdered as a result, and people with albinism who are attacked or murdered for their body parts, which are said to possess supernatural powers. With a general election coming up next year, there are fears that the situation for people with albinism could get even worse. And though it is less obvious, the manipulative actions of people calling themselves witchdoctors – tricking people out of their money through big promises and/or blackmail and fear (as alleged in this case) – are also highly damaging.
I will explore this issue in more depth at a later date, but for the moment, I just want to bring one thing to wider attention: did you know that Tanzania has a Witchcraft Act on the statute books?
It dates from colonial times, 1928 in fact, but was amended as recently as 2009.
I will come to what the law says in a moment, but first, how exactly does it define witchcraft?